The plot is a standard revenge tale told in a concise manner that involves a boy witnessing his parents' murder at the hands of corrupt officials and growing up to achieve vengeance. The boy goes to Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu in a superb training sequence that ranks with some of the better-known Shaolin Temple scenes in kung fu cinema. By the time the boy has completed his training, he has grown up to be Carter Wong and soon sets out on his mission. He meets Polly Shang Kwan along the way and, after some initial antagonism, the two become allies and confront the villains. The bad guys employ a particularly clever maneuver involving dozens of imperial guardsmen performing a variety of formations on cue (including standing on each other's shoulders, three men high) as Sammo Hung bangs out different drumbeats. Sammo and Carter engage in a particularly exciting bout against the backdrop of a mountainous landscape midway through the film.
After avenging his family's brutal murder, Wales is pursued by a pack of soldiers. He prefers to travel alone, but ragtag outcasts are drawn to him - and Wales can't bring himself to leave them unprotected.
A quiet and inconspicuous man (Trelkovsky) rents an apartment in France where the previous tenant committed suicide, and begins to suspect his landlord and neighbors are trying to subtly change him into the last tenant so that he too will kill himself.